365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Friday, January 10, 2014

T-shirt # 295 - Simple Elements ... Hard to Understand

T-shirt # 295 - Simple Elements ... Hard to Understand

"Il n'y a qu'un bonheur dans la vie, c'est d'aimer et d'être aimé."
- George Sand
(There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.)

Five years ago today, my wife Liesel and I went on our first date. I wish to share the story of our meeting, re-meeting, and falling in love.

I shared about marrying my wife in T-shirt #279, in which I reproduced our wedding ceremony script and included some choice pictures from our wedding. At that time, I wanted to relate the story of how we met, re-met, started dating, and fell in love, but the post had already grown quite long, so I decided to save that story for today, the anniversary of our first date.

Liesel and I originally met in 1990. She was dating a friend of mine, John Kasdorf. I was the host of a thing I called Cafe, which was an open mike night music and poetry (mostly poetry) wine and cheeser that I held in the English Department's lounge in Brown Hall at Western Michigan University. Around the time that John brought Liesel to some of these Cafe events my relationship at the time was ending, and I was giving up hosting the Cafe events, being replaced by the very man my girlfriend left me for, which I find a bit ironic (and not just in an Alanis Morrissette way).

Liesel developed quite a crush on me and kept an eye out for what I was doing in the years that followed. Now, Liesel does not believe the next part, but it's true. I had a little bit of a crush on her, too. I remember feeling the same thing I felt when I re-met her as when I met her originally. I thought to myself: "she's perfect for me. How come John got to meet her and date her first? Why couldn't I meet her first?" Unlike Liesel, my crush was less memorable. I did not remember her name. But from time to time over the years, I would wonder what happened to John's hot Hawaiian girlfriend who seemed so perfect for me. Heck, for years, I wondered what happened to John Kasdorf as we had lost touch.

text reads: sun, moon, earth, water, mountain
man & woman
Simple elements... hard to understand

Liesel reminded me of a hug we exchanged during one of these Cafes. I did not remember it until she recalled it for me, but I did recall it once she described it. I remembered where in the hall it took place and had a sense of what she was wearing, though I am not sure I could describe it. I felt her energy, which was a strong feeling and felt a connection with her. I also believe that may have been the moment that I thought most strongly how perfect for me she was and how disappointed I was that she was "off-limits" as she was dating and living with my friend John. In discussions about our history, we may have figured out which night this hug took place. I believe it happened after my break-up with my then girlfriend, at a time when I was either no longer host of the Cafe or in my last hosting, when I had written a story called "600 Cows" about a couple getting a divorce, drawing on my experiences with my recent break-up. I was a bit drunk that night, which may have heightened all my emotions. Whether the hug with Liesel took place that night or not, she had her crush from back then, and I had my feeling that she was perfect for me, though I forgot her name and only thought of her from time to time as that woman who seemed so perfect for me who was lost in time.

Fast forward 18 years. December third 2008. I am in Sawall health food store, and I am wearing my suit. I had just helped Chris Dilley give a presentation to the Kiwanis to raise awareness about the good work of the People's Food Co-Op. I was on the board at the time, and I was helping to gain more owners as part of our ownership drive to lead up to the PFC's expansion. I had met my friend Ryan Walters after the Kiwanis thing, and we were enroute to his place to hang out and talk comics. I had planned to change out of my suit there as I had a PFC meeting to attend in a few hours. But first, we stopped at Sawall because he worked there and needed his pay check, and I needed to buy a few things.

Liesel 2008
As I walked the aisles, I saw this BEAUTIFUL woman, and she smiled at me. I guessed she was a college student shopping with her roommate though really it was Liesel shopping with her thirteen year old daughter Piper. She looked almost exactly like she looks in the picture to the left, which I took from Facebook, printed, and carried around to show people this amazing woman I had met.

As I saw her shopping, I thought the exact thing I had thought when I met her all those years ago during the Cafe hostings: "She's perfect for me. Why can't I be dating her or someone like her?" Kicking myself all the time in the store, I bought my purchases and was waiting for Walters when she bought her purchases and prepared to leave. I was kicking myself because I knew she was about to walk out the door, and I would never see her again. I wanted to go up to her and say "Excuse me, you are absolutely perfect for me. I can tell. I have a feeling that we will be madly in love and I would like to take you out to dinner." But how do you tell someone something like that? I knew I wouldn't even have the courage to speak to her let alone try to make the kind of contact that would be useful (like an exchange of emails or phone numbers or even NAMES).

another picture of Liesel
and her kids circa 2008
So, I am standing by the door, when she is about to exit, and I hear her say: "you're Chris Tower." Not a question. A statement. SHE KNOWS ME!!! If my heart had wings, at that moment, it would have sprouted them, burst from my chest cavity, and soared to the sun and back. I felt such elation. I can't even properly describe it. With Piper averting her eyes and clearly radiating intense embarrassment over her mother talking to a man in a grocery store, Liesel explained who she was and how she knew me (see previous text). She introduced her daughter. I am not sure if she mentioned that she was divorced, though I left the store knowing she was single. She mentioned that she was back in touch with John, and I was unsure if she meant as friends or something more, so I remember feeling some doubt and worry that she and John were "together," which turned out to be the case. The conversation ended with us both discussing that we were on Facebook and could get in touch there. Piper really did an "Oh geez, Mom" when she mentioned being on Facebook, and we both laughed at the angsty thirteen-year-old.

this is Liesel with her mom
I went flying out of Sawall and flew through the rest of my day. I was high as a kite. I was heels over head in love at first sight. Ryan Walters can attest to this fact as I could talk of little else when we left the store. Later in the day, the entire board of the PFC, especially my good friends Chris Dilley and Hether Frayer saw me coming out of my skin with joy and excitement. I wrote my best friend Tom Meyers soon after who will relate that I was completely nuts about this woman I met in Sawall. Luckily for me, I had bumped into John Kasdorf outside Fanfare sometime that year, and we had become Facebook friends. I searched all his friends for a Liselle or a Liesel or actually any woman whose name was close to that spelling. Nothing. It took Liesel 26 hours to send me a friend request via Facebook. Meanwhile, I am dying in agony every second. What if she never makes contact on Facebook? How will I find her? Do I ask John? Are they dating? I was not even sure how to spell her name.

Liesel and Piper - 1998?

With Facebook contact initiated, flirting began. The courtship began. But there was a snag. She WAS dating John Kasdorf, again. Ten days later, I attended a KAPOW event, John's improv group: Some Kind of Pretty Woman at the Whole Art Theater. Liesel said she would attend as well but could not go out after. I had several other friends in the audience, one of whom knew what was going on with Liesel. I showed up with her and a crew of her friends because I did not want to walk in and sit alone. The other was just someone I had not seen in some time, who actually was brought on stage for the improv. Aftewards, the other friends bailed, and I was left chatting with Liesel and John. Liesel agreed to go out, but she had to take her daughter home first and make sure Ivan was all right. We all agreed to meet at the London Grille. John made it clear that when Liesel showed up that she would want to sit next to him, which did not happen. However, despite a nice time of drinking and laughing and conversation with a bunch of folks from the improv group, it was clear that Liesel and John were "together." I felt like a third wheel when they invited me to go with them as they moved the party to Sushiya, which stayed open later than the Grille. I excused myself and went home. Oddly, as I walked back to my car, I saw my friend Chris Dilley in Old Burdicks. I was feeling dejected and low. Once again, years later, this woman who was perfect for me in every way (I was more convinced of this than ever) was dating someone else, and it was THE SAME GUY.

In a weird twist of fate, I actually started dating someone else, thinking that I had lost out with Liesel. However, the Facebook communication continued. Flirting continued. And eventually there was some discussion of getting together for drinks. I could not figure out this woman, who was supposedly dating a friend of mine, and yet still paying attention to me. I was not committed to the woman I was dating, so Liesel and I made plans and had our first date on January 10th 2009. We mat at Fandango. It was a Saturday. On the way to meet Liesel, I had a conversation with my friend Elizabeth Hughey, who can also attest to how out of my mind excited I was. I did not realize that people could pre-drink before a date. When Liesel stopped at two glasses of wine, I wondered if she was a light-weight, as I wanted a third glass. I did not know she had drank before the date. Just one of the many things I learned from this amazing woman.

To say that the date went fabulously would be an understatement. I had fantasized that I might kiss her that evening, knowing that first dates did not usually go this way. I will not disclose all the details of that first night, but let's just say that my fantasies were more than realized. She was no longer dating John Kasdorf. She was free. We had a wonderful time.

I was completely and madly in love with her from the very start, really from the time I first set eyes on her. Liesel doesn't believe me, but it's true. I tried to safeguard my heart at first. I confessed to love much later only because I was afraid of being hurt. Though in this story "much later" is only ELEVEN days after that first date.

On March 11th, we decide to get married. On April 4th, I ask her to marry me, officially proposing. On October 3rd, 2009, we get married.

Now, I cannot imagine my life without her. Liesel is the love of my life and confirms every day that she is and always has been (and always will be) the perfect person for me to spend the rest of my life with.

I chose this shirt for today because I wanted something that would embody our spiritual connection. From the start, we felt a spiritual bond with each other, which is something we shared about at our wedding. It has to do with AKA CORDS, which is a concept of HUNA mysticism (see link).

If anything has changed, it is only that I love Liesel even more today than I did at first sight or when we got married.

Our spiritual connection has grown and strengthened, cultivating a deeper and richer experience with each passing day.

AND not only is John Kasdorf still a friend of ours, each of us, but he played drums in our wedding! Thanks John!

Here's a very select and small gallery of photos, mostly from 2009.

Liesel and I on St. Patrick's Day 2009
Liesel and I at her step-dad's wedding 2009

Liesel and I on Halloween 2009

Liesel and I at a wedding Dec. 2012

Liesel and I outside
Olde Penninsula
COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 70 shirts remaining

- chris tower - first published - 1401.10 - 17:34
final publication - 1401.12 - 11:59